Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Aunt Trish's Snickerdoodles

It’s a sad truth that sometimes, the more people become enamored with the now very fashionable world of food, it’s easy to become a bit of a snob. And while I admire all those who only buy organic ingredients, grow their own vegetables, and measure out their flour by weight instead of by cups, sometimes I yearn for the simplicity of a recipe whose primary purpose is to give you something sweet and comforting, even without the righteous frills.

It was with this in mind that I sought out a recipe for Snickerdoodles – the cookie that has, over the years, elicited perhaps the maximum scoffs from the entire population at large. I’ve had a few over time, but none were quite what I wanted. Several were delightfully oversized but disappointingly dry, while others looked chewy but felt about as soft as biting into a porcelain plate. Perhaps in my quest to utilize fancy ingredients and namedrop famous pastry chefs, I lost track of that important homey quality. Fate, it seems, kept me from the perfect snickerdoodle until I could find it again.

Luckily, I received a much-needed dose of reality to check my heady baking rampages when I took a stab at a lemon strawberry cake that was an incredible failure. I shant go into the details (as my poor bruised ego is still recovering), but needless to say the greatest fruits of my labor were a small burn on my left forearm and an entire loaf of bread that had to be thrown away. It was then that I was the fortunate recipient of a recipe from my boyfriend’s aunt. She tells me she’s not really a serious baker, but the Kitchen Aid on her counter, the antique bundt pans on the wall, and all my boyfriend’s accounts of her goods would suggest otherwise. This recipe yields the snickerdoodle of which I’ve always dreamed – crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, with a simple but utterly delicious taste of butter, cinnamon, and sugar.

Unlike many snickerdoodle recipes that use only butter, this one uses both butter and shortening. Dorrie Greenspan says in her book that the combination of the fats is what makes her pie crusts the best around, and I am inclined to think that it is this same duo that makes the cookies what they are.

Aunt Trish's Snickerdoodles

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 TBS sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Mix butter, shortening, sugar, and eggs.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt.
4. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and combine with wooden spoon. Shape dough by rounded teaspoons into balls.
5. In a shallow bowl, mix 2 TBS sugar and cinnamon; roll balls in mixture.
6. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheet.
7. Bake ~ 8 to 10 minutes or until set. Immediately remove from baking sheet.

Yield: ~ 6 dozen cookies.

No comments: